Posts Tagged ‘Leichhardt’

Shopping at Costco.

November 28, 2018

Some time ago I heard of a new shopping phenomenon. It is called ‘Costco shopping’. A bowling friend spoke how he went there and bought new hearing aids. Costco, he explained, is a huge shopping experience and one can buy everything from toilet paper to TVs, nicely crafted funeral caskets to embellished urns, everything for those alive and the dearly departed. The dead are as welcome as the living. This is apart from food, groceries, tyres and petrol. All direct from the pallets or bowsers at vastly reduced prices.

We have an American friend who already some time ago promised us the ‘the full Costco experience’. Last Sunday we arranged to meet up in Sydney’s Balmain where he would then take and drive us to the nearest Costco Emporium for a guided tour.  We are not really in for new shopping experiences but were curious enough to at least go and see it. Getting old doesn’t mean avoiding new experiences. I often regale our expeditions to Aldi. Why stop there? In any case, our friend had promised us to drive; so what the heck?

After arrival we noticed people walking with giant shopping trolleys. The trolleys were huge which, even though most shoppers looked normal sized, made people look smaller in what they actually were. A clever architect could conceivably convert those trolleys in mini-houses. The parking station alone was so large one expected traffic lights,  landings of light aeroplanes, border guards.  And everywhere those giant trolleys with small people pulling them along, all glazed eyed, and hyperventilating with over- excitement.

One needs to be a member for the privilege of shopping at Costco. It costs $50.-. Our friend had a membership card on which we could enter as well. After retrieving a large trolley we walked up several levels to get to the entrance. There were queues entering as well as at the exits. An infectious hurry is what seemed to drive most shoppers. In fact, the whole Costco event is finely tuned to spending and impulse buying . Impulse buying is what it seems to be about. The goods are portrayed at eye level and a kind of mass hysteria is honed to perfection. I would say that it is unhappiness and anxiety in most Costco shoppers which is cleverly taken advantage of and exploited by expert psychologists that try and maximise that manner of shopping. Shopping might well fill an otherwise empty life.

Cooked hot chickens were for sale at $3.90. I watched people putting 10 to 20 hot chickens in their trolleys together with towering packs of croissants. What does one do with all those hot chickens and dozens of croissants? Can you imagine going home with complete sides of sheep or pork? I watched someone taking a large pack of chicken breasts out of their trolley and exchanging it for a battery driven drone. What feverish thinking is going on with the shopper during those instant changes of choices?

The coffins looked nice and were temptingly displayed with white sheets tucked around the chrome handles with white plastic lilies poked in for good measure. I saw an elderly man fondling an upmarket nicely embellished urn ready for an impromptu ashes to ashes event. It was right next to a display of car tyres.

Helvi and I ended up buying some baby beetroots, a box of nectarines. Also a box of smoked German sausages and a kilo of sliced Swiss Cheese. (manufactured in Holland.) Our friend drove us to Bar Italia in Norton Str, Leichhardt. It was heaven and the Spaghetti Bolognaise was superb…as always.

All I all, an interesting day.

 

Where are the ‘Cities’? Finland’s income plan.

December 10, 2015

 

Old Turku, Finland

Old Turku, Finland

If you are looking for a city called Shoalhaven City, forget it. It does not exist. The same for a city called Canterbury City. We are visiting a place named Nelson Bay which does exists but yet Port Stephens does not. Nelson Bay is also Port Stephens together with some other townships. Palm Beach has no palms and tasty cheese is often not tasty.  Many a foreigner is left dangling to make sense of our fondness for the confusion caused by complications in naming things. I remember buying a house in Balmain but it was actually in Petersham because that was the Parish in which Balmain was situated but it was also in the county of Cumberland even though Balmain was also a Borough till at least 1906. (which was in the Cumberland County). To top it off, Balmain is part of Leichhardt Shire

I suppose, history leaves a stamp on land- titles and official documents and it takes a brave soul to modernise the running of a bureaucracy. Then there are places like Leichhardt near Balmain, but you would be wrong thinking it is the same as the electoral seat of Leichhardt which is 2500 kilometres away in the North of Australia.

It is no wonder someone asked; What’s in a name?

In the meantime Finland is addressing social inequality , by planning to pay every person a monthly income. Now there is a country that likes innovation and making things simple.

https://www.facebook.com/topic/Finland/112369262112381?source=whfrt&position=2&trqid=6226522533971078362

“To fight poverty and boost its own economy, Finland is planning to issue a check for $876 to every citizen, every month. The concept is called basic income, and the Finnish government is getting closer to finalizing its implementation this month.

The Finnish Social Insurance Institution (KELA) is drafting the plan to pay every one of its 5.4 million people $876 per month, tax-free, which would replace social support programs, such as welfare and unemployment benefits. Though a proposal from KELA isn’t expected until November 2016, a pilot stage is currently planned prior to full implementation of the program.

Basic income has been debated by economists for years, but Finland would be the first major nation to actually implement the model on a universal basis. The arrangement was initially popularized in the 1960s by Milton Friedman and would “provide payments from the state that would increase in inverse proportion to income.

This could be the Finnish government’s answer to rising poverty and unemployment rates during a three-year recession, and it is certainly popular among Finns. In a recent poll by KELA, 69 percent of Finns support a basic income. Voters elected the Centre party this April, which campaigned in support of basic income, but the idea is popular among voters of almost all parties.”

I will just leave you with the following;

Our Dutch pension that includes a holiday loading is now higher than our Australian pension. I worked in Holland for about three years. I worked in Australia for well over fifty years (paying tax!) Because the Australian pension is means tested, it gets deducted by the value of savings, the family car, furniture, silver tea spoons, cash on hand, brass taps etc AND a deduction of the value of our Dutch Pension.

Can one believe how complicated and unfair this all is.  We are not complaining and are living well. But what about those who pay rent or mortgage, have debts or living in struggle street?

The ‘Greening’ of Australia

March 31, 2015
My grandparents house in Holland.

My grandparents house in Holland.

If greening means anything al  it should at least include the colour green. Gardens that are filled with concrete and pebblecrete are often seen as lacking in some growth of  an organic nature. The inner city suburbs that now exclude anyone without a spare couple of millions, were the first to be bought up by migrants from Italy ,Greece and later on from the  former war torn Yugoslavian countries. While many liked their houses to have some garden, many did not.  Some felt it was a sign of prosperity and of having ‘arrived’ not having to grow vegetables on every square inch of land anymore like back home. Concrete was easy and cheap and it would keep the car parked very nice and clean as well.  They did not migrate to Australia having to continue growing tomatoes, potatoes and zucchini like back home just to stave off hunger and bendy legs. They were now well beyond poverty that they had left behind. A clean start with a concrete yard was the aim of many.

With time passing and migration from Europe slowing down the inner city suburbs with the concreted-over yards became fashionable as the original migrants got old, and as is the norm, ended up below some green grass despite their fear of it. Fading plastic flowers now biding time and keeping watch over the many Luigi’s , Nestors, Marias and so many black cladded eternally mourning Donnas.  .It has come to pass even to the best of them, irrespective of a green or grey priority. We will all end up bleached boned and push up cheerful  nodding daisies. A new and far more moneyed class are buying up the inner city houses, pushing up prices to unbelievable levels. Two million dollars for a 2 bedr. worker’s cottage is now the norm. Those poor Sicilians leaving Messina for Leichhardt or Balmain could not have foreseen that the  $ 600.- back in 1950s would turn into a couple of million some sixty years later.

A different greening is now beholden of so many. No more apparent than at last Saturday’s voting for a state government. The same party did not get booted out as was hoped as they should have, but the Green party with future more in mind than all the others combined gave some hope for this voter. As a member I had volunteered to hand out how to vote for the Green party. After arrival at 8am sharp a Green member was unfolding a little table on which to spread out the literature of what they stand for; anti coal seam gas extraction (fracking), anti coal mining and anti selling the ‘poles and wires’ leases  for 49 years. And for me their main stand on humane handling of refugees.  ‘Fracking’ seems to give the game away just by sheer use of that unknown verb. It is not even in the dictionary. That says a lot already! I mean, how can a worker get home and tell his loving wife; I have done some good fracking today dear, while taking his boots off.

I had a very social time and all the volunteers seemed a happy lot, no matter what party or creed they stood for. We soon crossed over and started talking and…get this…a Liberal party member volunteered to get coffees from the local café just around the corner from where the voting took place. There was not a hint of animosity or rancour. We were all joking and laughing, bonhomie galore. It makes one think that on a level of just ‘normal’ people  getting together there are no problems that could not be solved over a friendly latte, but once they form into different and separate groups and parties, the rot seems to set in.

It might be too simplistic a notion but would banning political parties ( except the Greens)make things better or at least ban Prime Ministers like Abbott or Howard?

Possibilties of Life in a Brothel. (it never stops)

July 6, 2012

The bath in the middle of living area was eventually screened off. Adjacent to the bath we had a second hand washing machine with draining of rinsing water done by lowering the hose to the outside and then sucking on it to encourage the flow. Nowadays it could be seen as a bit primitive, but to have a washing machine that did everything except pumping out the water, was seen as a minor dysfunction. The cottage itself with its open sunny feeling could only be improved upon by bits of furniture that we mainly scrounged around for in second hand shops, St Vinnie’s etc. It was shielded from the street by a very high timber fence that the previous architect owner had put up. It was so high that you could not even jump up to get a hold and climb over it. Some friends that had lived in Indonesia remarked it reminded them of a brothel that the Japanese were running then during the occupation.  No doubt, if it would have been possible to have had a look inside during the nude drawing lessons that the brothel conclusion could have been drawn as well.

We lived in a very narrow street with the before mentioned leased boulder from Leichhardt Council on one side and a cliff face on the other side, giving the impression that the tail end of the street had been cut through solid rock. During the period when we were still living in Pott’s Point and my brother Frank was working for me, we worked on a block of three story home-units that was on the opposite side of Gertrude’s cottage. When sitting on the very ledge where Frank took a swing at me, I used to admire the cottage. It had three goats then and the two blond girls used to play outside. The admiration for that cosy cottage came to owning that very same place some two years or so later. What a coincidence. When I read the advertisement for ‘Gertrude Cottage’, with a goat, I was fervently hoping it would be the one with the goats that I had seen before.

It was.